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Reducing Your Legal Costs and Expenses

In any business relationship or purchase you make, it is natural to want to save money whenever and however possible. Except in certain situations, quality legal representation is not cheap. If you don't have much experience with the legal system and typical lawyer's fees in your area, some of the charges may alarm you if you visit an attorney to discuss a legal issue.

When you meet with your lawyer for the first time you should discuss the facts of your case, the lawyer's opinion, and the fee arrangement that the lawyer uses for your legal issue. Depending on the type of case, the number of hours of work, and costs such as court filing fees and expert witness fees, your legal fees could be high or low. Here are some things you can do to help lower your total costs:

  • Get organized: Bring as much information as you can and share it with your lawyer during your initial consultation. Think about the case in advance before talking to a lawyer and try and find the right lawyer with experience in the same area of law as your case. Write down the questions that you want your lawyer to answer at your first meeting, including their opinion of your case and the legal fees that would be charged.
  • Understand the cost: Ask about the typical costs for the type of case you are asking the attorney to handle and what type of fee arrangement will be necessary. If you have a personal injury case it may be a contingency fee, which means the lawyer will receive a percentage of the money recovered for you. If you have an uncontested divorce case it may be a flat fee. Other types of cases may be an hourly fee based on how much the lawyer or their paralegal works on your case. The lawyer may require a retainer from you, which is an amount of money to be paid upfront. Any fee agreement should be in writing.
  • Be thorough: Tell your lawyer all the facts. Do not assume that your lawyer knows them all. The attorney-client privilege means your lawyer will keep all the information that you tell them confidential. This could help cut down the time that the lawyer will spend investigating the case and gathering information. To represent you efficiently and give you good legal advice, it will help your lawyer to know as much as possible about your case. This way, you will avoid surprises during the course of representation.
  • Be efficient: Try to be as concise as possible. In many circumstances, you will pay attorney's fees for every minute you spend with your lawyer, including on the phone or when responding to an email. A friendly relationship can facilitate the handling of your case, but you should try to limit your discussions to your legal matter. You will not want to pay for a casual conversation about non-legal matters when you are paying an hourly rate.
  • Communicate: You need to discuss the case with your lawyer and prepare for meetings to have a good client relationship. You are probably the primary source of information about your case, and you can limit the legal work needed. Provide all documents and other evidence requested, such as videos or social media, as soon as possible and update them if needed. If something new happens, you should inform your lawyer. It may change what the lawyer is doing on the case, which will save them time and you money.
  • Examine your bill: Make sure that your bills do not contain costs or expenses beyond those you agreed to pay. Even if you have a contingency fee arrangement, you should check to see that the lawyer appropriately billed for costs and expenses.

A Note About Settling

While you should always choose what is in your best interest, you should also know that settling a civil case faster or agreeing to a plea bargain if you are facing charges in a criminal case will also likely save you money.

If you are worried about the time it takes to resolve a case and what it is costing you, you should always bring these concerns to your attorney. They will be able to help you think through your options and what resolving a case quicker will mean for you, beyond what it will cost. It may be better to spend more to protect your rights and interests in some cases.

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